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[Ukrainian Statehood in the Twentieth Century: Historical and Political Analysis. Kyiv: Political Thought, 1996. pp. 381-395.]

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The Uninvented Fifth World


The previous sections have sought to present the constants and regularities which have already taken shape and the growth of the institutions of the Ukrainian state as a result of the incessant activity or excessive inactivity of the various political and social subjects. Simultaneously, the aptness of the subject matter, inflated for some and undoubted for others, is capable of obscuring what may be termed, to use bureaucratese, the "context of state-building," which is for Ukrainian citizens primarily their everyday life. The illusion that the discourse on everyday life is of secondary importance is deceptive, for the theme itself, far from being the focus of social debates in the time of intensive nation-building, allows for a certain measure of freedom in description, for they are brought beyond the bounds of the binary juxtaposition of primary vs. secondary importance. One such possible perspective is offered below.

1. On the Non-Problematic Nature of the Fifth World

We read in Tlön. Ukbar. Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges:

...We found an article on Upsala on the last pages of Volume 26, an article on the Ural-Altaic languages on the first pages of Volume 27, but not a single word on Ukbar. Bioy, slightly embarrassed, took the index volumes. In vain did he check all conceivable spellings like /382/ Ukbar, Ugbar, Ookbar, Oukbar... Before leaving, he told me it was an area in Iraq or in Asia Minor. I confess that I nodded with a certain feeling of awkwardness.1

Associations can lead anywhere. Let's imagine that the only encyclopedia where a friend of the writer's found the article on Ukbar also contained an article starting "Ukr..." which was also missing from all other editions. Do these places really exist, and are they like their descriptions? Are they on the edge of reality or the edge of fiction?

Leaving apart disputes over the borders, nobody can be said to doubt the long-established existence of the land called Ukraine as well as that of a large aggregate of individuals organized symbolically or directly in groups, strata, and categories acting individually or together in accordance with or contrary to the structures of the social order, i.e., a society filling the given territory. This is exactly what we say today: Ukrainian society. It is the latter that all controversies of the "metaphysics of presence" seem to pivot around. In terms of the gnoseological and cultural practices of deconstructivism, we have to try to overcome this metaphysics, which is quite within the capabilities of intellectuals and artists. But it is beyond the capabilities of mass consciousness rooted in everyday routine and busy with other fascinating, if most often painful, attempts to remove the spell from its strange symbols, cues, and strict statements. Certainly, everyday routine can also work out the samples and precedents of reaction to a literally "squalid existence." However, the social presence of an individual, outside which any statement about an existing society becomes problematic, requires inevitable coordination with its subjective reality. The point is not so much that the intentions of subjects to distinguish positions in social space, and to attach others or themselves to them now so often fail. Social scientists explain what is happening to the identity of subjects in terms of transformations, loss and seeking, throwing off ana taking up, or any other concepts which indicate the extraordinary nature of the process. Being extraordinary is not in itself /383/ necessarily identical to deep crisis or catastrophe. Transformations of identities are also observed in quite stable social systems; they accompany migrations and social mobility. The revision of traditional or conventional cultural values also makes it difficult for a modern person to identify his belonging to a certain common sociocultural context which clearly displays the seams joining together individual ethno-cultural traditions.2 It is something quite different that in relatively quiet and partly balanced social environments the permanent confirmation and reproduction of subjective identities are carried out more often imperceptibly, following the natural tendency of individual consciousness to accept the world as something given and everyday public reality as a streamlined system which presupposes always and with certainty his or her place. Pre-theoretical thinking and common sense handle this procedure without effort, while "identity remains indistinct as long as it holds no place in the world."3 In a disturbed socium, processes of identification become all the more urgent and topical, being subjected to reflection and emotional rethinking. The subjects are involved in gleaning the irrefutable evidence of their social presence, their presence "here and now," in the social space and time where they exist. Moreover, the futility of this operation seems not to embarrass anyone at all. Attempts are either easily abandoned or made over and over again, while appeals to urgency are not accepted as strict and imperative. Of course, one must also consider the chance of a decisive transformation of the reality within which identity is affirmed beyond the current one. A person may be considered, as the existentialists did, the sum of his capabilities, i.e., his projection into the future time and, in our scenario, into a different or altered socium. Perhaps, conversely, recording the traces of what has already happened should be considered a privileged socio-cultural activity. But in any case, such a transformation of the time and space of identity will require (albeit imperceptibly) a correlaf n with the present either by means of the subject's own monocentric /384/ acts vulnerable to "blinded self-preservation" (Jürgen Habermas) motivated by his fear of losing his identity, or through discursive practices suggesting the communicative or symbolic reproduction of his own social position. To make this successful requires not only acceptable definitions of spatial and temporal realities but also their most accurate and unambiguous demarcation.

Today the world still lacks any such definitions and demarcations. Those offered by politicians and journalists, inspired by the magic force of a legitimate status to produce all kinds of symbolic classifications for social life, remain by and large mere symbols without any relationship to adequate definitions of the situation. As a result, social subjects seem to be uncertain in which world they can, must, or will assert themselves. Hence the metaphor of a "fifth world."

2. Orbis Quintus

This metaphor's source is in the long-established description of the world order where the numeration of common structural elements did not have at first any differentiating significance suggesting the "first world" the politically, economically and culturally self-sufficient West and all the others ("West and the Rest").4 By the end of the twentieth century, the ranking of worlds becomes of fundamental importance, although it does not require any strict sequence of numbers. The "second world" of socialist countries proved to be rather an illusory opposition to the "first" one and survives today only in part. The "third" world, on the contrary, is getting rid of a third-rate complex and acquiring the reputation of a potential source of new political and cultural movements. A "fourth" world came into being recently, localized on the expanses of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and some CIS countries and characterized by an intention to look like the "first" one and make up for lost historical time. And, finally, the "fifth world" implying a quaint combination of all the above orders and capable of /385/ materializing anywhere on vast territories or a limited locality as historical fate would have it.

The fifth world is by no means a Utopia from the past or future. This is a world of the present which has gained an unheard-of privilege (Jacques Derridas) compared to other time modes, a world in which the fields of the real, imaginary and symbolic are so mutually absorbing that they can only be distinguished under the electron microscope of an analyst or the penetrating look of a master, which due to various existing deficits cannot now be dreamt of.

3. Space and Time

That citizens of the fifth world permanently find themselves in a given physical space is by and large self-evident. An unyielding physical reality continually reminds them that they belong to a certain territory. The experience of reckless or highly pragmatic excursions beyond its borders confirms this to the very few that they live "there" rather than "here." Efforts to identify and familiarize with the physical medium seem to be rewarded with better results than a search for self-definitions in the social and political contexts. This is quite clear because it is the human body that remains, within the present limits, the unshakable essence of the physical world, a bulwark of presence, a visible point in an agitated and at the same time viscous space against the background of a glaring and fading play of socio-cultural identities.5

However, corporeal reactions to the products of uncertainty-laden sense perception are simple enough. The point is that the environment's plurality of significations perplexes the perceiving subject from time to time, preventing him from improving his physical ability to absorb the signs and translate them into various symbols and definitions. The population, quite sure of being on their own physical territory, i.e., "at home," often sense that home's unrecognizability: unknown things around, people changed, and therefore /386/unknown, under unclear circumstances. The exterior of many cities and towns abounds in the instances of utter neglect, dim colors of a worn-out physical environment which depress one's mind and are especially discernible next to a gaudy rainbow of bright, if not necessarily fresh, objects from other words. The fact of the unsteady physical framework of space has been evidenced directly or indirectly in various discourses of the fifth world inhabitants, be it political debates, public "roundtables" or everyday communication actively involving the physical metaphors of construction, collapse, or sickness.

"Of ever greater interpretive importance in this connection is the cosmological legend about the emergence of the fifth world. According to some not-so-new ideas, the new formation under observation is the product of an explosion which broke up a hyperdense (totalitarian, in the political science sense) body. This disintegration, like any other serious disintegration, caused the emission of physical, intellectual, and emotional energy, as well as the energy of economic, political and social claims, desires, or temptations. The whirlpool of powerful energy flows, in its turn, brought about the constellation of vast "vacuum zones," "torsion fields" as well as "high tension" areas. The pressure drop made the fifth world's outer surface highly permeable, causing it to draw in material and ideal things accumulated on the periphery of other words, which is still being held up by the inertia of previous movements."

Tangible physical reality by no means disintegrates into clearly-discriminated segments of the "proper" and "foreign" but leads to double perception. The mechanisms of an unmistakable discrimination between the proper and alien types within one's own dwelling place seem to have gone wrong. Material objects, which were unambiguously marked as "alien" only recently, are now being appropriated both compulsively and naturally and used for describing one's own space, while things we were long used to are lost sight of. This applies equally to geographical regions, aircraft, ships, pipelines, state emblems, flags, goods, food, advertising logos, and school textbooks. However, that which was ours is not completely being replaced by the so recently foreign, /387/ and the material world is being expanded, while its individual and loose fragments are already being rejected as a real field for asserting identity or are not yet accepted as such.

The body reacts to these complexities of perception, above all, with muscular involuntary reflexes, movements aimed at setting distance, acquiring and enclosing one's own space, keeping out foreign physical objects, or, on the contrary, at expanding one's territory by occupying the neighboring spaces with all their accessories. At the same time, more regularity is achieved in inhaling new smells, coming to know unknown tastes, and removing the audial irritation once caused by the sounds of foreign speech. Hence, surprise at fresh opportunities to achieve physical comfort by consuming things can also precede the identification of a subject in their field.

A specific temporal order of the fifth world also promotes the absolutization of space (to overcome the latter requires purely muscular effort). Time seems to have shaken off its clumsy linear imagination, and the principle of a strict succession of the past, present, and future has lost its fundamental importance. Logic, memory, and hopes of inevitable progress are in a certain turmoil because they have now lost their traditional capacity to master time. However, the new temporality can only be understood by means of muscular efforts, physical strain, and will. It turned out, for example, that a not-so-distant past could be resolutely forgotten through an intrepid act of will-power.

In a world populated in the main spatially only the present has real meaning. A dim historical retrospective and a blurry future are taken for granted, treated as a kind of necessity creating conditions for a thorough cultivation and mastering of everything available at the moment. The past rushes in on the present in selected and corrected episodes, but the former's advice is not at all categorical, while the future totally fails to make imperative its purposes. The present, which draws in its whirlpool the previous and forthcoming layers, may seem to be able to effectively colonize /388/ them and assert its complete sway. But in reality, the privilege of the present generally turns out to be the energy time trap.

The sociological discourse about the social sense-laden space and time is bound to develop in the terms of sociality irrespective of these terms being accented upon or belonging to a context known to and shared by the participants. It does not mean at all that the ideas of a chromotopic structure common to all people of the world should in this case be reduced to such notions as "social space" and "social time." The physical and the social are divided here rather analytically, even if this work is done by mass consciousness. The topological and temporal oppositions can be regarded, after P. Bourdieu, as the embodiment of social structures and social distances of a hierarchic society, which is achieved by means of "naturalization causing the social realities to steadily move into the physical world."6

The space and time of the fifth, as well as any other, world are quite interpretable in this key. Its inhabitants, like the citizens of the other words, surely have an acute (even perhaps all the more acute by virtue of the on-going transformations of status networks) "taste" for the social: this P. Bourdieu calls the feeling of an individual social orientation based on the acquired experience to distinguish the dominating and the subservient social positions.7 The symbolic classifications of the previous and newly-created social strata, circles and groups, which are wide-spread in our public rhetoric and everyday language and point out the main positive or negative characteristics from the viewpoint of the assessing group, are an unambiguous testimony to this. Meanwhile, notice should be taken of the parallel existence of a different mechanism of perceiving space and time which supplants the sociality of the latter by physical factuality, rather than levels it off, as J. Baudrillard8 might have suggested. The "social eye" of everyday routine often fails to get engaged because the physical one is weak. In other words, the interpretation of, eg., social writings as claims discerned in the self-confident body movements and lengthy speech of the numerous special status-laden anonymous individuals to somebody's space and time is being postponed without actualizing, if colliding with a lot of punctuation marks, due to the relevance of purely physical overcoming of such encroachments on the identity. The social construction of reality acquires a lagging profile.

The catch-up rhythm, originally declared preferable because the fifth world is trying to make up for lost time in its development (exactly like in the fourth world), is not /389/ felt. On the contrary, a tendency to slow down the dynamics of various processes, such as a gradual slow-down in economic slump and inflation rate or the unhurried progress of market reforms, escapes no one's notice. Obviously, the very notion of speed as a ratio between the distance passed by a body and the unit of time is being essentially modified and supplanted by a problematic tendency to express distance in terms of directional movement. Sociologists no longer fear that they will have no time to record and preserve for future generations the facts of today because nothing is happening. Units of time, however, are also liable to revision, for it is more effective and easier to measure time by the units of space to be occupied, in the units of nervous and physical efforts or their compensation (the "spare time" of the past), financial losses, and acquisitions.

Thus, it is difficult to determine the "timeliness" of an act like the introduction of a national currency or the payment of wages. Loosened time regularly embraces those who wait for trams, buses, and even the subway trains which used to run in a steady and impeccable rhythm. "Work time," deprived of legitimate limits and receiving no commensurate, extends or flows into a different space that guarantees acceptable exchange or disappears altogether in the shape of long vacations and holidays. The relationship between the fifth world generations is not confined to their perennial conflict, which also testifies to age-related, i.e., temporal, gaps. The perception of a present pregnant with collapse governs the emergence of primarily situational identifications in time ( "I am waiting"), while the concurrent notions of a comically expanding present only intensify this practice. Thus, the creation of projects vital in the long run loses its urgency.

4. The Factual Nature of Citizenship

The relationship between the spatial and the temporal is best represented by world-wide communications. A social /390/ subject power is clearly discernible in the constituting of communications. The presence of this subject can no longer be ousted into a speech-free context. Railways and electricity are known to have once formed radically new aspects of the time and power relationship, which had an essential influence over the social order.9 The mainstreams of contacts in a stable society never go out of governmental supervision. However, in the fifth world, the control over mutual interpretation of space and time by means of communication is not as crucial as the designers of other worlds think.

"A so-called fast train covered the distance of 450 km in ten hours in the late 1980s, now it does it in twelve hours at an average speed of 37.5 km. per hour. What a surprise would it have been for, say, H. G. Wells who thought in 1920 that the train carrying him from Petrograd to Moscow at a speed of 25 miles (40 km) per hour was only "dragging on." It takes a letter one and a half weeks to go to a point 450 km away, and one and a half months to a point 1000 km eastwards."

Traditional communication facilities, remaining functionally underused, can hardly lay claim to the metaphor of "human expansion" (Marshall McLuhan). What we see is rather the narrowing of the achieved and return to original dimensions (for many reasons, it is more effective to deliver money to someone personally, i.e., physically, than by postal order). Traditional communications, no longer burdened with everyday governmental oversight, are more and more fulfilling their designated purpose of providing for an interworld link-up, presenting themselves not so much as a function of the social contract but as attributes of peace rather than the function of a social contract. Incidentally, some forgotten institutions of movement in space are being restored, e.g., "going places," whose original Russian meaning incorporates the idea of interconnection between the physical and social environments.

By contrast, the newest communications based on computer technology and electronic networks (E-mail, Internet) /391/ "miraculously" overcome space and time. The air space where they go out and about is not yet large, and this method of communication by no means has mass accessibility. However, even they obviously demonstrate their worldly nature, creating entirely new areas completely free from government control, areas within which communities of what is known as "virtual democracy" are being set up. On the other hand, air trails blazed by television and wellknown to the majority also delineate areas of relative freedom for the inhabitants of our territories, despite the state's natural wish to closely watch, preserve, and expand the "information space." Naturally, we mean neither the freedom of television or other mass media of the fifth world, which are inevitably dependent on the institutions of power and capital, nor the freedom of appropriating symbols and meanings disseminated in huge quantities (e.g., TV serials, one of the cultural products the viewers love, are offered as a choice between the North and Latin American specimens). We mean that TV communication constitutes one of the few spheres of life where the identities of individuals and groups being formed in the space and time of cultural products are permanently backed up with real, and not fictional, activity, as is the case with the emerging but often unconfirmed identities in the market of things and other cultural benefits. Audiences seem to have withstood an onslaught of previously unheard-of variety, not only identifying, but asserting continually their own tastes and preferences.

The procedure of correlation with quite a specific authority is most likely to be part of the public transport passengers' everyday experience. The possession of a car requires a clearly recorded presence of the state in the subjectivity of an individual in the shape of a driving license. A driving license, Baudrillard says in this connection, is "sort of a testimony to citizenship," it "serves as a title deed for the newest motorized nobility whose coat of arms has inscribed on it the compression of gases and top speed. Forfeiture of a driving license is today a kind of ex-communication..."10 /392/

Incidentally, even accidental or newly-converted car users in the fifth world become more and more fascinated with the car's simplest functional truth, viz., the comfort of movement through space and time capable of defusing almost completely the atmosphere of power at least for short distances between the traffic police posts. The presence of the state is also felt by air passengers deprived of the anonymity of a personal intention to transform a space-time interval. But here, too, allowance is to be made for an essentially narrowing scope of domestic air communications in the fifth world. This method of confirming identity with the state is practiced by 5% of our citizens at most.

It is not surprising that fifth world inhabitants face the problems of their national (state) identification. A world is always larger than a state and not measurable on the latter's scale. In our case, the point of discourse arises only because the borderlines of the fifth world's symbolic maps and those of a state coincide. Public opinion poll data repeatedly show the differentiation of the population into groups which do or do not confirm their identity with the modern state entity on their territory. This differentiation is spatially oriented, for the identities are being delimited along the "east-west" axis.

In a way, this should convince those who do not believe in the reason why the entity under discussion claims the status of a world trying, in its self-sufficiency, to reproduce a micromodel of a populated sociocultural universum, i.e., a large world where the aforesaid axis is always tense. In plain terms, the fifth world has its own East and West with all that this statement implies. The former persists in evading the declaration of an unconditional subjection, while the latter accepts it almost without hesitation. However, there is also the South demonstrating with more assurance its regional identity and the Center which does not hesitate much in presenting itself as part of a legalized totality. As for the North, the sociological operational findings and electoral behavior pattern testify that it most often falls out of and dims the overall picture. /393/

"The choice of belonging is limited and of unequal value, if treated in terms of the real and the imaginary. However, the presence of this choice itself seems to spell out the problem of citizenship even before the forthcoming discussion of it in the context of the "citizenship national identity" dilemma put forward by universalism and communitarianism. For we do not touch here on the active forms of the manifestation of civic loyalty or, conversely, rejection of it, but come across the fact of the coexistence of different state identities in a single geographical space. This fact is not accidental or some sort of deviation but quite a stable fact of life."

Identifications with the previous state most typical for the inhabitants of eastern and southern regions may seem to reflect the actualization of the past. But the point is in space rather than in time. The past time is certainly represented, as always and everywhere, in a symbolic and imaginary reality. However, the past does not replenish the stock of social knowledge required for being in reality because the present renounces natural continuity and is tired of breaking into it illegally. Lamentations of the many about the complications of adjusting to the new forms of order testify to their life in the present rather than in the past, the latter no longer protecting anyone. The language, capable of transcendence, effortlessly opens an outlet from the present to this side or that. In practice, this causes a sense of discomfort or apparent suffering from the inability to glance at a once accessible space, i.e., what is known as nostalgia. It is the longing for a certain organized space, for integrity which is so much easier to imagine than accord any kind of discreteness, especially if one's consciousness is not prepared to replace one totality with another.

The present provides conditions for a simultaneous firmness and frailty of identification with the still unreconstructed space. Stability is ensured by the existence of vast enclaves of the socium's former organizations. Unsteadiness is caused by the absence of expected objectivications of the old order or by their existence in radically transformed shape. Identifications with the imaginary and symbolic "former" /394/ world still respond to the political calls for restorative public works. But the fact that, within the field of an isolated individual, they avoid full-scale conflict with other existing, in fact contradictory, spatial identities testifies to their "survivability" rather than vital power. The overwhelming majority of the population upholds the right to own some property, i.e., primarily to possess their own physical, and hence social, space, which was not in fact envisaged by the previous identity in a space usually treated as collectively occupied.

Identification with the state is no doubt closely connected with the setting of identity by the state itself. Obviously, any objectivizations of statehood play an essential role here, as most probably do various influences on the normative sphere of mass consciousness capable of producing both a rationally mediated reaction and suggestive effect.

There are instances of a pompous correlation of our territory with that of a large European country as well as examples of the overemphasized self-centeredness of the national TV and press foreign news which does not match low interest in our state in the world mass media. All this may be regarded as the mechanism of provincial consciousness to assert one's identity through persistent attempts to enclose one's space as self-valued and self-sufficient in the foreseeable and controllable future.

However, recognition of the independence and sovereignty of a new state remains problematic for a considerable part of the population irrespective of their region of residence. It is something else again that a rather critical assessment of the achieved degree of independence nevertheless goes hand in hand with confirmed identification in the west and the capital, and a virtually mass-scale rejection in the south and east. The indistinct markings of a selected and occupied space inevitably affect the incidence of situational identities in a given sphere, which is evidenced by the obvious unwillingness of many residents in the east, south, and partly the center (but by no means in the west) to support the declaration of national sovereignty as they once did on December 1, 1991. /395/

Meanwhile, the population's attitude to the state is not so simple as to be described satisfactorily in terms of a dichotic scale of assessments. It is no secret that the fifth world is rather an unsafe place rn which to live. Safety of various kinds from the physical (life) and ecological (the environment and food) to the social (a social position ensuring an acceptable standard of living) is perhaps the highest benefit in most acute shortage among us. Despite their absence of identification with the state, they appeal to it in search of the material and status guarantees without much confidence in a positive result. This demonstrates what may be called the phenomenon of "deferred citizenship" oriented towards arbitrary prospects. But this arbitrariness means a discursive practice scheme equally acceptable by the "demos" and the state in their relationship, rather than a transfer to the future. In a fifth world absorbed in the preservation and redistribution of energy resources, the identification of the inhabitants and the authorities is neither binding nor imperative, on which the optimists and pessimists of both liberal and conservative views look as an object for interpretation.

The factuality of citizenship as belonging to the fifth world brings to life specific forms of mechanistic and social solidarity or competition, special methods of producing cultural specimens, legitimizes multi- and transcultural symbols and meanings. But the fifth world's social structure and culture is the topic of a special discussion, which can take time because the fifth world is still living in and by the present.

1 Jorge Luis Borges, " Tlön, Ukbar. Orbis Tertius", in: Jorge Luis Borges, Proza Raznykh Let, (Moscow, 1984; Russian translation), p50.

2 K.-O. Appel, "Ethnoethics and Universalistic Macroethics: Contradiction or Complementarity?", Political Thought, (Kyiv, 1994), No. 3, p.230.

3 P.Bergman, T.Lukman, The Social Construction of Reality, (Moscow, 1995; Russian translation), p. 281.

4 V.P. Pecora, "What Is Deconstruction?", Contention: Debates in Society, Culture and Science, No. 3, Spring 1992, p. 60.

5 Bauman Z., Intimations of Postmodemity, (London and New York, 1992), p. 194.

6 P.Bourdier, Sotsiologiya Politiki, (Moscow, 1993: Russian translation), p. 36.

7 P.Bourdeau, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, (London, 1989).

8 J.Baudrillard, In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities, (New York, 1983).

9 M.Foucault, "Space, Knowledge, and Power" in: Foucault Reader, (New York, 1984), pp. 243-244.

10 J. Baudrillard, Sistema Veshchei, (Moscow, 1995: Russian translation), p. 57.

11 Jü. Habermas, "Citizenship and National Identy" in: Ju. Habermas, Demokratiya. Razum. Nravstvennost', (Moscow, 1995: Russian translation), pp. 209-245.

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